Computer glitch caused leaking of key economic data

Brazil’s statistics agency said a computer glitch has caused releases of key economic data onto the Internet earlier than scheduled since May and that the information has been accessed more than a thousand times.

It’s not known who saw the data and whether they used them to trade, said David Wu Tai, head of the center for documentation and dissemination of information at the Rio de Janeiro-based statistics agency, known as IBGE. The fault was discovered yesterday after an unidentified journalist alerted the agency, and it has been fixed, he said.

When computer systems were changed earlier this year, an old data base mistakenly continued to update economic indicators on the evening before they were supposed to be published at 9 a.m., Wu Tai said. The releases usually came after 6 p.m., when markets in Brazil close, limiting the possibility of trading on the information, he said.

“This leak is very negative,” said Jankiel Santos, chief economist at Espirito Santo Investment Bank in Sao Paulo, in a telephone interview last night. “It gives room to the interpretation that someone in the market was operating with privileged information.”

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